Elif Shafak, the award winning Turkish- British writer, who writes in Turkish and English, is under investigation by prosecutors from Turkey along with other writers, for infringing obscenity laws. Said the writer:
“In the World Economic Forum’s gender gap report, Turkey ranks 130 of 149 countries. Only around 15% of child and adult sexual abuse cases are reported. The number of child brides is alarming. We need to talk about our problems rather than pretending they do not exist. The art of storytelling should dare to talk about difficult subjects.
“In all my novels I have tried to give voice to the voiceless. I have written about outcasts, minorities, the displaced and exiled … I wanted to make their stories heard. So I really find it tragic that instead of changing the laws, building shelters for abused women and children, improving the conditions for the victims, they are attacking fiction writers. That is very sad.”
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Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?
I write in order to save my (admittedly fragile) sanity! Otherwise the voices in my head would drive me crazy…
Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?
My most recent project was a short story written from two points of view — that of a Filipino man and a Sri Lankan woman. I was interested in finding out what it would be like to write a story with characters that I didn’t particularly like, and to use contrasting perspectives on the same set of events to tell a third story — one that was different from both versions offered by the protagonists.
Describe your writing aesthetic.
I’m not sure I have a writing aesthetic as such, because I enjoy good writing in many forms. But I do have a soft spot for humour and wordplay, a clever turn of phrase.
Who are your favourite authors?
I have so many! But my favourites include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Alan Paton, Elif Shafak and J. K. Rowling.
What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.
The most challenging piece for me so far has been my short story Judgment Day, which was awarded in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2010, because it was my first — and so far, only — attempt to write science fiction. The story is told in the voice of a female robotics scientist living in 2250, and examines how human relationships change as a result of technology, and what remains familiar to those of us living in the 21st century. To make matters worse, the story originally had to be written within a word limit of 500 words, and it was one of my earliest experiences with flash fiction!